The Right to Disconnect?

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A BBC article popped up in my feed today about ‘The Right to Disconnect’. Article

In case you don’t want to read the article, the general line of it states that some organisations and even Governments are looking at Banning staff from accessing their work emails outside office hours. Apart from the overarching desire to tell people to stop using email, the renowned killer of productivity and number one office frustration, there is a real concern over the lack of awareness that cultural changes are needed to accompany the development in comms and collaboration tech.

This cultural change needs to be driven from the top down, and needs to move away from a 9-5 mentality, into a task driven approach. I’m not daft and I understand that there are many industries and work places that have fixed working hours due to the nature of what they do or the sector they operate in, so this article does aim itself at the corporate side of all businesses.

How a user works and the constraints that surround their life, is best only understood by the users themselves. Gone are the days of insisting that people work for x number of hours. By setting expectations on what tasks and deliverables are required and by when, you take away the need to be worried or concerned about working hours. Life is busy for everyone and life gets in the way, so let the users work when they need to work, when they are most comfortable working.

Banning email or comms outside of the 9-5 or whatever your office hours are may well not be a good idea. If school runs need to be completed, so be it. If I have to go out, I will, then I will add on the lost time later, often in the evening, because that works for me. Forcibly preventing comms and disruptions between certain hours would make my life far more stressful than it is by allowing me to choose the manner of my work-life blend.  

Try re-educating your business and users that this approach is ok. ‘Deliver what you need to deliver, when you need to deliver it.’ Is proven to be a far more effective way of treating staff. And, if you have genuine concerns over someone working too many hours, or too early/ too late, then show them the tech that allows them to decide what times to protect, don’t make decisions for them. Check out this post by Tom Arbuthnot on Microsoft Teams Quiet Time. Forcing the way people work is both unproductive and frustrating, especially when everything is heading to a more flexible way of working.

If you are worried about your organisation’s wellbeing (still not sure that is actually a real word), then look at something like Modality Systems’ Teamwork Analytics Usage module for Microsoft Teams and help users understand how to use the tools to maintain their work/life blend. With this kind of intelligent tech, you can automatically identify and target users who are really burning the candle at both ends and provide them with specific help or information on how to maintain that balance. Happy balance means happy users after all… right?

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